Navigating the Skies of Safety: Unveiling the Challenges and Strategies in Airport Fire Safety
Airports are one of the busiest and most complex environments when it comes to life and fire safety. It is no surprise that ensuring the safety of passengers and employees and the protection of property against fire is an important aspect for building owners and operators. This task is more complex than it appears at first glance.
5 challenges of fire safety in airports
The fire safety team at airports faces various challenges. Here are five of the main challenges they regularly encounter.
- A lot of different stakeholders
One of the biggest challenges is the multitude of stakeholders, each with their own diverse set of demands. When establishing a legal framework for fire safety requirements, the aim is to strive to satisfy as many parties as possible. This ranges from ensuring a pleasant experience for passengers, to facilitating efficient interventions for emergency services, to creating a pleasant working environment for staff and present airlines, etc…
- Disagreements with security
A recurring challenge is the collaboration with security. Security has an important task at airports. They are responsible for screening passengers and luggage, preventing criminal activities, and detecting potential threats. They are also responsible for access control to some restricted areas of the airport. However, these can sometimes conflict with the responsibility of the safety team because they need as many doors as possible to be available for the evacuation in case of an emergency. This can result in regular discussions between security and safety officials.
- Airports are constantly changing
The airport is constantly evolving. New sections are being built, areas are repurposed, renovations take place, and so on. It is crucial for the fire safety team to keep track of every change occurring and enforce measures to ensure fire safety is always maintained.
- Increasing Awareness of Violations against Fire Safety Regulations
The requirements imposed on various projects and buildings are not always closely monitored by project managers. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct multiple inspections of the different implementations. The members of the fire safety team will unintentionally approach walking through airport buildings from a unique perspective, as they will be constantly vigilant in detecting any violations of the regulations.
- Keep in touch with the technological innovations
To ensure safety to the highest degree possible, it is important for the fire safety team to stay updated on the latest techniques and installations that guarantee it. Since it is impossible to be an expert in all aspects of fire safety, specialized consulting firms like FPC Risk are enlisted for assistance in various projects, providing their expertise where needed.
How to get everybody on board?
How to convince all stakeholders of the strict fire safety requirements? The key is to make people understand the importance of these requirements. Awareness needs to be created on this subject.
- Staff training and clear communication
This can be achieved by focusing on staff training and clear communication about what needs to be done in case of an emergency. This can be reinforced through regular drills of various emergency situations.
- Informing the passengers
This clear communication also applies to passengers. It should be clear what they need to do in the event of a fire, where they should go, but also what they should not do.
- Coordination with the emergency services
Lastly, coordination with emergency services should be well-aligned to enable them to respond efficiently.
FPC Risk's Vision
Because the needs of airport safety are completely different from those of regular buildings, and airport buildings are often much more complex, a risk-based approach is crucial to ensure fire safety. Each situation needs to be individually analyzed, considering various perspectives, to create a safe and efficient environment.
For specific complex situations, it is often best to seek the advice of experienced experts. In this way, FPC Risk has been supporting various projects at Brussels Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.